Agony and Ecstasy are Lucifer's enforcers. They first appeared in Hellblazer #12.
In many countries around the world April 1st, or "April Fool's Day," is celebrated by playing practical jokes on one's friends and neighbors.
Read about the origins of April Fool's Day at Wikipedia.
"Funeral March For a Marionette" was the theme to the TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Alfred Hitchcock, famous director of suspense, mystery, and horror movies, introduced each episode, a new self-contained mystery.
This is Dr Jonathan Crane, also known as the Scarecrow. He is one of Batman's most famous villains, partly because of his appearance in the recent movie Batman Begins. Originally a psychiatrist, his obsession with fear caused him to perform increasingly destructive experiments on his patients and society at large. When caught, he was admitted to his own asylum.
The materioptikon is a powerful weapon invented by Dr. Destiny, which allows him to turn his dreams into reality. The ruby materioptikon is the second version, made from Dream's lost ruby. When Dr. Destiny says his mother gave the ruby to him he means originally; only the amulet was given to him in prison, hence the need for him to escape and find the ruby.
The Joker is Batman's most famous and popular villain, known for his sadistic jokes and complicated schemes. He is an inmate at Arkham Asylum between crime sprees.
He has most recently been played by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger.
This is a dream of Mister Miracle, or Scott Free, a master escape artist raised on the hellish planet Apokolips by Granny Goodness, an evil woman who uses brainwashing and torture to train warriors for Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips. Mister Miracle was a member of the 1987 incarnation of the Justice League.
Justice League International was the title of the Justice League series begun in 1987, featuring a more global focus and then-minor superheroes such as Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel, and Guy Gardner as Green Lantern, with many line-up changes adding new characters. Before and after that series the team was called the Justice League of America.
One of the Justice League's most famous headquarters was a satellite in orbit around the earth, which was destroyed during Crisis on Infinite Earths. One later HQ was in Detroit, and another in Rhode Island which was called the Secret Sanctuary.
A reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet:
There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for
Act IV, Scene 5
Rosemary is a herb with an old reputation for improving memory, and has long been used as a symbol for remembrance.
Find information about the history and medicinal uses of rosemary at Botanical.com.
In this panel a sign advertising the movie Night of the Living Dead is seen. Night of the Living Dead is a classic zombie movie made in 1968, directed by George Romero and starring Duane Jones and Judith O'Dea. The second billing, Zomby Woof, is a fictional movie taken from Frank Zappa's song of the same name.
J'onn J'onzz, or the Martian Manhunter, is one of DC's oldest continuously-active superheroes, a founding member of the Justice League, and a member of almost every incarnation since. While it had already been implied in Dream's encounter with Nada that he is perceived differently by each culture, J'onn's recognition of him is the first and best evidence that Dream has been known in all cultures and all times.
This is the only time this city is ever mentioned. Presumably it refers to either a real Martian city, perhaps a city famous for its beauty, or something from Martian mythology, perhaps analogous to the Garden of Eden. The word "focative" may derive from the Latin word for "hearth," which became the modern English "focus," in which case it might be interpreted as "focusing mirrors," which could have something to do with Martian telepathy, or as "fiery" or "heat-giving mirrors," although that interpretation is unlikely since Martians have a well-known vulnerability to and fear of fire. Since Gaiman (and Dream) are both fond of Shakespeare, it is also possible that this is a reference to a scene in The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which a comic routine is built around the "focative" case in grammar, and Dream is essentially giving J'onn J'onzz permission to have an erotic dream.
Read the full text of The Merry Wives of Windsor at Project Gutenberg.
Hermeticism is a quasi-religious belief system based on the writings of Hermes Trismegistus. Dee is asserting that he follows a more ordered, intellectual magical system, rather than being the generic, chaos-oriented "black magician" the other scientists accuse him of being.
Find more information about Hermeticism at the Galilean Library.